Pete Stark, Rep. Eric Swalwell
CONGRESS | 15TH DISTRICT | Pete Stark’s four decades in Congress did not have a happy ending and the bitter defeat to Democrat Eric Swalwell apparently still burns. Stark told Roll Call, a publication focused on Congress, he plans to do everything in his power to help State Sen. Ellen Corbett defeat his old rival next year.
“Hopefully Eric will lose, and I am doing everything I can to see that Ellen Corbett wins that primary election,” Stark told Roll Call on Wednesday, “I remember Eric, during the campaign against me, suggested that I was too old and inept to be of any value in the political process, so I am going to see if I can prove that to be wrong.”
In fact, Swalwell’s sometimes mean-spirited attacks on Stark’s human frailty was an underreported aspect of his upset victory last year. You may recall Swalwell’s campaign produced a low-budget video depicting a hypothetical debate between Swalwell, who appeared as himself, and a young actor with painted gray hair posing as Stark.
During the last campaign finance period, Stark contributed $2,000 to Corbett’s campaign and more appears on the way. There is also a chance Stark’s reemergence in next year’s race could actually help Swalwell again reinvigorate moderates and conservatives in the Tri Valley.
But, while other members of the California Democratic House delegation are beginning to make a concerted effort to strangle Corbett’s intraparty bid while its still in its crib, Stark is heading in opposite direction, at least, in this race.
However, Roll Call also published an article Thursday, possibly showing Stark employing a plea for party loyalty over an upstart young Democrat in another nearby congressional race. Stark told the publication, he attempted to dissuade Ro Khanna from challenging South Bay Rep. Mike Honda next year.
“I tried to convince Ro not to do that,” Stark told Roll Call. “I think that’s impertinent of him. I mean … Mike is a fantastic member of Congress.” In fact, Stark’s emphasis on describing Honda as a beloved member of the state’s House delegation is a meme you will often heard from local officials and political observers in the area.
But, before you label Stark a hypocrite for claiming party loyalty when it does not effect him personally, he also told Roll Call, Khanna “has to wait and run.” Of course, waiting for their turn to run, is what a caravan of local politicians, including Corbett and Khanna, did in the 15th District two years ago before Swalwell swooped in a upended the order of things in the East Bay.